POLICE recorded at least two violent crimes a week at Colchester secondary schools, new data has revealed.

A Gazette investigation found 167 crimes were logged by Essex Police for the area’s 16 mainstream, private and grammar schools during 2017.

Of these, 89 were classified as ‘violence against a person’, which can include violence with or without injury, and stalking and harassment.

There were also ten sexual offences at schools.

Headteacher Miles Bacon, of Tiptree’s Thurstable School, said parents are now more frequently reporting incidents at school to police.

He said: “Parents sometimes report in-school incidents to the police, and they do this much more often than used to be the case, which explains the high violence against the person number.

“However, this is not because schools are now more violent places than they used to be, or because schools do not manage and resolve incidents as well as they used to.

“The increase in reports to the police is because parental expectations in this area are much higher than they were, and parental tolerance of violence between children is so much lower than it was, both of which are clearly a good thing.”

He added that schools tend to call the police when they have an issue related to potential violence by an individual who is not a student at the school, and so is beyond their control.

He said: “This a rare occurrence for most schools. Very rarely, schools may feel that they cannot control one of their own students and call in police support.

"I have done this once in 13 years as a head teacher. Violence towards a staff member by a student is also extremely rare – again, once in 13 years in my case.”

Also committed were 17 public order offences, six drug offences and six damage and arson offences.

Thefts were the second most frequent crime, making up 15 per cent of crimes.

Police also attended schools 72 times, which included twice for malicious communications.

Others were for hate crime, possession of an offensive weapon and intruders but not all attended incidents result in crimes being recorded.

Fiona Pierson, head teacher of St Helena School, Colchester and at the time the data was collected, was principal of Colchester Academy, said social media was a contributing factor in crimes committed by pupils.

“Schools are finding themselves operating in increasingly challenging environments, challenges presented as a result of funding cuts, the exponential rise in social media and social issues that come over the school threshold,” she said.

“There is tremendous research to suggest the increased use of social media distracts a young person and at times this distraction causes anti-social behaviour.”

Essex Police would not reveal which crimes happened at which schools saying this could lead to individuals involved being identified.

A spokesman for the police’s Information Rights Team added: “Every effort is made to ensure that figures provided are accurate and complete, however Essex Police systems are designed primarily for the management of individual cases and not primarily for the production of statistical information.”

Figures were for the year 2017 but were only just released following a Freedom of Information request.

The schools where data was collected from were:

The Thomas Lord Audley School, Colchester

Colchester High School Colchester

Royal Grammar School

Colchester Academy

The Philip Morant School and College

Colchester St Benedicts Catholic School and College, Colchester

Colchester County High School for Girls

St Mary’s School for Girls, Colchester

St Helena School, Colchester

The Stanway School

The Gilberd School, Colchester

Holmwood House School, Colchester

The Colne Community School and College, Brightlingsea

Thurstable Sports School and College, Tiptree

Manningtree High School

East Bergholt High School